kernel

OSU c/o 2017
10+ Year Member
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Sep 18, 2008
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Veterinary Student
Hey friends,

I often pay a visit to the forum when I'm feeling unsure about something, and it has always seem to help.

This time, I'm wondering if those of you who took time off between obtaining their undergraduate degree and finishing up pre-vet coursework/applying to vet school could share some of the pro's and con's of your experience.

I'm a third year undergrad who only recently decided to pursue a double major biology and french. I've known for a while that I wanted to go into the healthcare field, and just last year I decided for certain that I want to be a vet, so I have gen chem under my belt, but I'm still *very* far behind. I'm toying with the idea of finishing my bachelor's and then taking some time off before I dive into more school. I have zero shadowing/job field experience, and I've lived in the same city my whole life (I'm itching to give Canada a try!**). That said, I'm realizing that I would only be prolonging the amount of time I'd have to spend in school. If I do "just enough" to finish my degree in biology, I would still to take things like biochemistry, and the rest of the gen physics and ochem sequences. I understand that taking time off can be dangerous in terms of remembering the stuff one needs to succeed in these classes!

I'm really torn here. I don't want to commit to either of these options blindly. To be frank, however, I'm already starting to get burnt out on school, and I know that I'm lacking heavily in field experience. Despite the fact that I'm already leaning a teensy bit in one direction, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I've been trying to register for winter term classes this week, but I'm totally stuck.

Happy Thanksgiving!


**On a side note, I'm kindof in love with Canada. I understand that there are only 5 vet schools up there, some of which don't even admit students outside of their respective provinces. I've fantasizing about moving up their and working long enough to acquire residency... I don't know. I think that's also been weighing in on my internal debate. My in-state school is Oregon State. As awesome as it is, it seems as though they have the most pre-reqs of any of the US vet schools. 2 terms of four hundred level bio chem? No thanks. I'm not too stoked of the idea of staying here, where I've been my whole life, for another 4 year anyway.
 

katryn

UTCVM c/o 2014!!!!
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Apr 2, 2009
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My time between school(undergrad) and more school(vet school), was not by choice, but I have to say for me it was a wonderful thing. Looking back, I can see how I was definitely not cut out for this the first two times I applied.

Pros: I learned a lot about living on my own, working 40 hours, paying my own bills, how to live with a spouse, etc. The extra time spent only working also really gave me a bigger chance to find out exactly what it is that I like about vet med, and that the things I don't like are things that I can in fact live with.

Cons: I'll be almost 30 when I graduate from vet school. (I know it could be worse, but to me, this sucks! ;)) It also means that my husband and I either have to try and start a family while I'm in the middle of school, or put off kids for far longer than either of us wants or had intended to.

Edit: I also don't feel that taking time off of school hindered me all that much on things I was supposed to remember. I was out for three years, but I also took the time to look through some basic review and vocabulary books recommended by the school before classes started.
 
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sumstorm

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Apr 5, 2008
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I'm very much a non-trad: 10yr btwn undergrad and vet school.

I have mixed feelings and a LOT of this depends on what you will do with the time off.

Pros: life experience, career experience, chance for exploration, changes in perspective, priorities change

Cons: pre-reqs may 'age' beyond use (some schools have 6 yr limits), relocations may make you ineligible for residency anywhere, learning is a skill and it does get rusty, changes in perspective, life can get in the way, priorities change

I am over 30 and in my second year of vet school. I'm happy with my path, but some things are far harder this way, but some things are vastly improved.
 

VeganSoprano

Queen of Spayeds
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It's okay to take time off. It's also okay to scramble and finish everything in a hurry. Just do your research beforehand. It would suck to scramble and still find yourself missing a prereq so you've stressed yourself for nothing.

Oregon is definitely not the only school that requires 2 semesters of biochem. It's probably worth taking since you will need the material for vet school.
 

bonaparte

UC Davis c/o 2015
Mar 30, 2010
188
0
Davis
Status
Veterinary Student
I'm currently in my "year off" after undergrad. I'm working part-time and just really enjoying not have many obligations — it's really freeing especially because I never took a quarter off in my undergrad (took summer classes every year).

I live with one of my parents so ... no bills to worry about, and I'm considering traveling.

This year is pretty much just recovering from getting a little burnt out, which I find really valuable. So if you are feeling burnt out I highly recommend taking a year off. Plus, once you have an established career you won't get the opportunity again!
 

moosenanny

UC DAVIS class of 2014!!!
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Jul 15, 2009
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I don't mean to speak for the OP, but I think their question was more pertaining to taking time off between undergrad and finishing vet school pre-requisits, rather than just time between undergrad and vet school. In this case, I could see how information getting rusty could set you back, since many of the pre-requisit classes build off of each other (i.e., concepts from orgo are heavily relied upon in most biochem classes). I personally went straight through school, without a break, and I'm glad I did because I feel like a well-oiled memorization machine.

I know this is going to sound harsh, so I apologize in advance, but if you feel "burnt out" after three years of undergrad, you may not be cut out for vet school. Right now at Davis we're taking 23.3 credits of science, with pretty much at least one exam every single week of the quarter (perpetual midterm exam study mode)! The classes aren't harder than undergrad, but there is a lot more material, and many more classes taken at once with no easy "filler" classes (like a poetry writing class, lol).
 
Feb 11, 2010
33
0
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I'm currently in my second year of "time off" after being an undergrad. My "time off" has been spent earning a M.S. degree, so I use the term very loosely. I do believe that these couple of years in a different program have helped me immensely to solidify my desire to go to vet school and pursue research with my veterinary degree (if I can get one, of course). During this graduate program, I've had the ability to take the random class here and there to fill out the various pre-reqs that the universities I'm interested in require that I didn't get to as an undergrad as well as helped me mature as both a student and a person. I feel that I'm wholly prepared for vet school whereas I don't think I could have said the same coming straight out of undergrad education (though your mileage may vary depending on how mature you deem yourself to be). I've garnered zero debt in my graduate program, am (hopefully) a much more attractive candidate for vet schools, and have a shiny master's degree in my pocket.

Unless you're in a tremendous hurry to get in and out of vet school, I certainly wouldn't view it as a bad thing to spend some time elsewhere between undergrad and vet school.
 

Tonkamoo

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2008
141
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Vancouver, BC
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Veterinarian
After undergrad I worked for 4 years in another industry before going back to school to take missing pre-reqs to apply to vet school. Like many have said I think the experiences I gained in my time off where very valuable and worthwhile, and allowed me to grow and be more sure of what I want and value in a career.
That being said - taking my pre-reqs as a non-matriculated student was very hard. If you don't manage to enroll fulltime in the school (there are some official post-bacc degrees you could get), I had the lowest priority getting into any of the courses, and things like Biochem, Orgo, Microbiology where all full of undergrads at my state school, and thus it was very hard for me to enroll in (especially in labs). Meanwhile at the nearby private schools courses where over 3 times the price.
I also was surprised to find that even though I live in a major city (Seattle) no universities offered evening courses (biochem was the sole exception) which means working and taking courses at the same time was hard.
PLUS, if you have courses left that build on each other, you can't take them at the same time, so you are left taking maybe 2 courses at a time over a 2 year period, and could not get it done in a year even if you want to.
And I found that most of the schools in my city are all on the quarter system, so I had to take extra courses to meet the semester requirements of most vet schools. Overall taking these courses in undergrad would have made my life much easier. I recommend at least taking physics, chem, orgo and bio.

So while I think time off is a very worthwhile thing to pursue, taking post-bac courses once you're out of university is not as easy it seems like it should be.
 
Dec 30, 2009
53
0
AB, Canada
Status
Pre-Veterinary
It seems to me that your concern is not necessarily with school, but that you have the travel bug (which I have to say, I love travelling and it is hard to be in school when all you want to do is travel somewhere!) That being said, you can always travel during the summer breaks!

1st I think your making the right choice finishing your degree, maybe you can play around with your course schedule to get all the pre-req done within your degree timeline by dropping elective type classes, then you don't have to worry so much about that.

It would be nice if you could get experience before your done your degree and spend alot of time on finishing up pre-reqs. To me experience is an asset, it gives you exposure to what vet med is about to see if you really want to be a vet or if you just like the idea of it. I've known a few people that wanted to get into vet med, they did some shadowing and then hated it! It's just a good thing to know before you put in so much effort!!

I don't think that taking time off is a bad thing, but I would definitely finish your degree first then take time off after. As for when to finish pre-reqs thats entirely up to you! I took time off before my undergrad and I will probably be taking time off after my undergrad too! But I also don't mind finishing vet school at a later age, whereas some people want to get done as soon as possible.

You also don't need to establish residency to apply to Canadian schools. OVC and AVC take on International applicants. Canada is a beautiful place, if you do want to establish residency and move up here, you really need to think about what school you want to attend because no matter what provence your in you only get 1 choice!! (unless you move to AB, we get 2).
 

nyanko

total trash mammal
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Sep 8, 2006
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I know this is going to sound harsh, so I apologize in advance, but if you feel "burnt out" after three years of undergrad, you may not be cut out for vet school.
And for once I'm going to be a little less harsh and replace "cut out" with "ready yet."

Listen OP. I hated most of my classes in undergrad during my first degree, even the vet school prerequisites. I resented having to take what felt to me like worthless crap filler that I'd never care about (gen ed requirements) and I had a lot of trouble with motivation. To say that I was totally burned out would be a drastic understatement.

I finished my first BS (in Computer Science), then packed up, went to a different area of the country and worked for a year (first in a CS job, then in a vet clinic) before starting back for my prereqs. During that year, I realized that part of my issue with school was that I don't care about learning for the sake of grades or getting a stupid piece of paper - to me learning new and interesting things is very much its own intrinsic reward. So kind of paradoxically, when I went back for prereqs (and ultimately a second bachelors) as the complexity, volume and difficulty of material increased, so did my interest, my motivation and in turn, my grades.

BUT it did take me some time away from the academic environment to realize that. So I really do think even if you're feeling burnt out right now, taking some time off might fuel a new appreciation for and understanding of learning and your own relationship with it. And you'll be able to have new and different experiences.

And if it takes you longer than a year...so what? Ultimately if it's what you want, you'll make it happen. And it's alright to wait until you feel ready to do that, and not being ready right now doesn't mean you're not "cut out" for school or the profession.
 

moosenanny

UC DAVIS class of 2014!!!
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Jul 15, 2009
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And for once I'm going to be a little less harsh and replace "cut out" with "ready yet."
This is an excellent distinction to make. Thank you colleague, classmate and friend :D
 
Nov 28, 2010
8
0
Canada
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I agree. It depends on whether or not you are in a hurry to get into veterinary school. If you are, then just take one summer off, or one semester. If not, take a whole year off. But it would be worthwhile to use the time off getting animal experience and maybe even taking one or two prereqs part-time if you haven't done them all yet. I am currently in my "semester" off. I graduated this past June and am starting back in January to finish off my prerequisites. I planned to take a whole year off because I was also feeling burnt out after my undergrad but by August, I wanted to go back as soon as possible, do my prerequisites and try to get in to vet school as early as possible. So I enrolled for January. (It was a bit too late for September enrolment) During my time off, I am working in vet clinics, doing volunteering work and I did my GRE (which I was able to do well on because I didn't have any other subjects to study for =)

You may plan to take a whole year off and change your mind, like I did. In the few months I had off, I planned my future courses and really thought about my future and I realized I did not want to wait anymore. The time off seems to have fueled my motivation! =P Or you may plan to take a semester off but realize you want to continue for longer. Just be sure to you know how to plan ahead for both situations =)

I would highly recommend finishing your prequesites first before applying to graduate. Then take the time off =) I wish I had done the prerequisites before I graduated. It's a bit of a pain for me because I had to apply for a second degree and now I have to do the prerequisites for this degree on top of the vet school prerequisites. (Although if I do plan to ditch this second degree if I get accepted into vet school :p)

The time off can defintely help you reorganize your thoughts and priorities if you are feeling overwhelmed.
 

Willowhand

KSU Class of 2014
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Mar 24, 2009
391
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Veterinary Student
During my junior year of undergrad, I was on the fence about whether to apply in the coming year (to start vet school the fall after I graduated) or to take a year off. I've never been one to enjoy sitting in a classroom, I was hoping I could get an interesting yearlong internship, and -this was the biggest hesitation point- I did not think I had a chance of getting in. After doing some soul-searching, I decided that I really did want to start vet school as soon as I could. I sent out applications to four vet schools, and during the fall of my senior year I got together some internship opportunities and started applications for them. As it turned out, my vet school applications ended up being successful. Despite my original doubts about the timeline, I was happy to begin right after graduation, and I am still happy and very fortunate to be here.

In response to the concern of "burn out": I think the important thing to do is ask yourself why you feel that way and assess, as best you can, how you would feel starting vet school in each scenario. The biggest reason I felt burned out in undergrad was that I was tired of jumping through hoops not knowing if I'd ever reach my goal. It was simply exhausting struggling through classes I didn't enjoy (ahem, Calculus :scared:) knowing there was a chance it would all be in vain. Now that I've reached that goal and all I have to worry about is doing a good job of learning relevant material, I find it much easier to stay focused. However if my burnout had been due to a general tiredness of all things academic, a year off might have been well-advised.

So as I said: try to pinpoint why you feel burned out, then decide where to proceed from there. If you decide to take a year off, great! What you learned in undergrad should still be relatively fresh in your memory, and you might gain some great experience and rediscover your passion in the process!

If you do decide to apply next year, keep in mind that summer and other vacations are your friends. You can get a lot of hours of experience in if you commit to volunteering/shadowing/working in the field during those times.

Good luck :)
 

CurrySpice

10+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2008
494
1
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I am graduating after 3 years of college (tired of living in dorms in small town MN), and I've officially commited to taking a year off (by not applying anywhere).... and I'm FREAKING OUT. I've been in school since I was in kindergarden, held part-time and summer jobs occasionally.... but I won't know what to do with myself without school!

Over winter break I'm going to scan past threads in this forum about suggestions for what to do during my year off. I may end up taking classes part-time and volunteering at the shelter & horse rescue all the time, and have a part-time job. I'm looking at a vet clinic in the cook islands, which offers internships too. We'll see.....

So, I have no valid advice other than I wish I'd applied because then my life would have a concrete path right now. But, I think I'll love taking a year off, I just tend to panic when my life doesn't have direction.

I looked into doing some of the americorps-type programs, but haven't found anything I've "clicked" with yet. I applied to GreenCorps, interviewed, and realized it was not something I actually wanted to do (very stressful position, tons of public speaking).